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Contact Mizeta at mizetasworld@live.com, or Howard at fhschneider@comcast.net

Which Way Do You Swing?

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I’ve addressed this issue countless times over the years. In early posts on my blog I exposed my feelings, but try as I might, I cannot avoid the question. Are you gay? If I was, I would feel no shame, nor offer apologies for my sexual preference. That would be who I am. As it stands, I’m still totally nuts about women, even though I haven’t had a girlfriend for years. It’s a tactile thing. Difficult to explain without generalizing.

When I worked for Central City Concern, I was required to attend a class delineating the difference between sexual identity and sexual preference. The body is born with specific biological functions, but the entity dwelling within is not only shaped by innumerable forces, it has its own identity from birth. How one identifies as a human has nothing to with body chemistry. On the other hand, sex has everything to do with the body. What smells good? What feels good? What, or who turns you on?

On the inside I’ve always been girly. Stockings, shoes, perfumes and pretty dresses are the focus of my attention. I love to cook, entertain, and keep house, (not meaning to assign roles to a gender and only speaking for myself) but I don’t need a man to sleep with. The difference between sexual identity and sexual preference rears its head again and leaves me trying to explain the difference.

I prefer the company of a woman because of sensitivity and awareness. Not to say they are all perfect little angels, but to say their concern for others is beauty I can’t ignore. Their kisses can be rough, but are most often sweet, and given with absolute sincerity. They hug deep and I relish their touch. I love the way they are when waking in the morning. We put on our faces together and foray into the fray. At night we hold against cold uncertainty and shelter each other’s soul. We are there. Present. Not listening half-heartedly while thinking of someone else or other things. The universe is ours to explore.

But! Getting back to the dissertation. I wish people could understand that it is true they are unique, and powerful as well, but so is the person standing next to them. We are all made of the same material, but shaped in different ways. How we dress or who we sleep with is a personal decision. I guess the old adage is really true. When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me. Having preconceived ideas about anyone can lead to a lot of problems.

Like many people, I would love an immediate transformation. Where streets are safe, thugs no longer rule, and I can walk any sidewalk in this country wearing whatever dress fits the weather. I know we have a long road ahead, but for every person who declares their right to exist, the human factor strengthens. We are not immune from extinction. Beings stronger and fiercer have been consigned to oblivion. Our replacements could rule for moments or eons, but we’d never know. Sadly, we blew our chance to live as one. To destroy labels and accept the fact we’re all in a battle with a hostile planet that shows no mercy or remorse.

I want to live my days in peace and not have people judge me because of sexual identity. I want people to connect with my heart instead of my DNA. I was born. I had no choice. I was assigned a form. But I–that inner voice, became stronger and louder as time marched on. I expressed my girl, but never developed a desire for sex with men. Each being is faced with similar questions. Who am I? What do I like? And what do I want from life? Sometimes the answers are foreign to ourselves. Is that really me? Do I really feel that way? When social programming gets erased, personal truth emerges.

Love to you as always. I wish we could all be friends. But if that’s impossible, could we share the world despite different points of view? It’s sad that everything dies and we are left with memories, but we become memories ourselves. Please leave a good one, I beseech you. Mizeta      

Still Weird

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The influx of people from other parts of the country, along with the current administration’s entitlement of haters, has changed my mind about Portland being a bastion of weirdness and tolerance. Where alternative lifestyles were once lauded and accepted, I’m hearing disturbing stories about transgender and queer folk being victims of violent attacks. Police are seemingly unconcerned about investigating or curtailing such behavior.

Refusing to allow transgendered people to serve in the military has also fueled the backlash against rights people have bled and toiled for. Why a person who feels patriotism towards this country cannot serve the flag mystifies me. Even though I feel their desires are misguided, their intentions are worthy of respect. Exclusion, persecution and denial of equality are hallmarks of despotism.

Recently, I attended a Kiss concert at the Moda Center. One would think rockers would be accepting of people such as myself, but every time I went to the bathroom I faced confrontation and derision. I use the men’s room because I’m still a functional heterosexual and respect women’s right to privacy in an intimate environment. Besides that, there are more and more women following a right-wing religion-based agenda against people not adhering to so-called normal behavior. Without non-gender-specific facilities, buildings such as the Moda Center are not doing anything to change the tiresome exclusion of the LGBT community. All the security guards in the world cannot stop a hater from punching out a guy in a dress who is peeing in the urinal.

Snarky comments, rude stares and the like haven’t bothered me for years. My personal confidence and refusal to be denied the right to exist allow me to rise above all attempts at intimidation. However, I am aware of how many people who remained silent for years now feel empowered to spew both homophobic and racist rhetoric without consequence.

So . . . my question is, are we really a progressive, accepting city where everyone has the right to exist, or are we following a national trend of xenophobia and exclusion? Will Portland shed a title that has always been a point of pride and become an enclave of rich white people? Does the LGBT community have the strength in numbers to withstand an onslaught against its very existence? I truly hope there are enough weird people living and moving here to outrun the tide of newbies bringing their outdated mores to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Instead of seeking new horizons, they seem to be bringing the diseases they fled with them. Entrenched in dogma, they don’t embrace the chance to reinvent oneself and become part of the Oregon spirit and way of life.

It is true that Oregon has had a checkered past and once practiced exclusionism, racism, and a host of other toxic philosophies, but in the last few decades acceptance and tolerance have moved to the forefront. It is my hope that such qualities will not fall by the wayside while the meanest administration in American history rules the land without mercy or consideration for the common man. I will always stand against tyranny. I will always accept everyone’s right to live, even if I don’t agree with their views or practices. All I seek is the same consideration. We all need to pee. Hopefully, one day, there will be facilities that allow others like me to attend public events without concern for their safety. Until then, all I can hope for is a return to what Portland supposedly represents if it ever truly existed in the first place. Mizeta.

Counter Culture

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It would be easy to give up on humanity right now. Hate groups marching in the streets. Abundant anger around every corner. Daily news saturated with murder, abductions, robberies and mayhem. It would be easy to dismiss the power of love as well, but it will not go away.

Charity is shown every day. Hugs are given, hands are shook, and smiles are exchanged. Those who share are shared with. When faced with horror, steadfast souls cling to the tiniest shreds of hope. They withstand floods of bitterness and resist tyranny. They look in the eyes of those around them and see the same joy of existence they feel.

There is always a counter culture. The dualities of life demand its presence. Regardless which side is up, the down side remains active. For me personally, I’d rather see more love than hate. Greater acceptance between different cultures, skin types and belief structures. I’d prefer to be a friend than an enemy, but sometimes that is not possible when persons seek to harm, defame or dismiss you. That is when we face the greatest test.

Can we learn to live around those with whom we disagree? Accept the fact that air is free for our detractors to breathe as well as ourselves, and that we are all one organism whether we like it or not? Can we learn to forgive, even though we may never forget while staying wary in case another attack ensues? Can we find ways to avoid persecution? I don’t like living in fear, so I don’t because it’s corrosive and detrimental to my health, but I’ve learned to be cautious. There are so many people in the world who want to harm others I cannot ignore this fact.

All I can do to change the world is give and give and give from my heart and tread lightly on the planet while being the best person I can. I displease some, but constantly embrace others with the hope of sharing equality and love. To minimize negativity and enhance tranquility will always be my goal. I’ve never killed anyone, but I’ve erred and felt shame. I’ve stumbled often, but have never lost sight of the possibility our world could become a less frightful place. I implore anyone who is listening to stop and see the wonders of our world. To cherish its beauty and marvel at its very existence. To not hate the person standing next to you for being a part of it all. And more than anything, to unlock your heart and let it frolic on the wind. Soaring unfettered by bigotry, prejudice, and judgement can lead to revelations of wonder and experiences beyond imagination. Love, Mizeta 

Simultaneous

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We are not isolated. We are part of something greater than ourselves. Trillions of actions are happening every moment. Holes are dug, treasures are sought, mouths are kissed, and tears are shed. Babies are born as old people die. Betrayal happens. Friendships are formed. Some are left standing in the cold while others warm at the fire and feel content. One is endangered, another is rescued.

Duality cannot be dismissed. It smiles as we struggle to become more of one thing and less of the other. It smiles because it knows the balance is always shifting. It smiles because we cannot escape its grasp. Billions of lives are being lived simultaneously with similar dreams and aspirations. Duality dictates that some dreams be crushed as others are fulfilled. A reasonable person cries over spilt milk, but doesn’t lament what happened for very long. They rearrange the pieces and build new dreams.

I was faced with a total rebuild of my life after a tree crushed my trailer. All my possessions were exposed to slashing rain and howling winds. By the time I arrived home from work it was too late to save very much. Like most humans, I cried while wondering why it had to be me. Earlier that day I’d been watching a news broadcast about flood victims in Florida, earthquake damage in Japan, and hundreds of burnt homes in California. Earth’s disregard for our welfare has become so much a part of every-day life, I was inured until it happened to me. When it did, I finally understood the pain and suffering of existence. Up to that point I’d ignored what was happening around me.

When I went to the Red Cross shelter, I saw hundreds of victims being tended by caring volunteers. Eating watery soup on a wooden bench made me realize I’d never connected emotionally to the suffering of others. While things were going my way, I was content in my ivory tower. Wrapped in a blanket and sleeping on a concrete floor was humbling. I thought about people dining in fine restaurants across the globe while others starve to death. I thought about how one person becomes crippled at the very moment another is healed. I thought about excess. I thought about how I’d never spared a dime for my fellow man. I realized how much I don’t know about other cultures.

My insurance agent grimaced when he informed me I wasn’t covered. My boss seemed sorry that the company was letting me go for not being able to dress properly and show up on time. Everyone apologized for stepping over me and pushing me down, but their insincerity was obvious. I was now one of the downtrodden. I would have to reinvent myself and find new purchase or slide into obscurity.

Sitting against a wall at the shelter I resolved to become a better person. I became one of the healers instead of a victim. Every step I took led to a new life. Now I have a tiny office at a mental health clinic, counseling people whose worlds have been crushed by circumstance. I explain to them that when faced with adversity one cannot wallow in self-pity. That anger and the desire to blame someone are unproductive. That by reengaging in the process we can change our situation. Using my meager salary, I’ve been able to purchase a used trailer. It’s smaller than the one I had before, but is warm and cozy when winds howl and cold creeps across the land. I came to realize that things I lost were not as valuable as I thought. Unfortunately, while I am on the rise, someone else is on the decline. Before I didn’t notice. Now, I try to cushion their fall as best I can. Duality laughs at my efforts, but I feel better about myself for lending a hand.

When you stop trying to push life around you learn to relax and let it embrace you. You take down walls and stop resisting. You quit worrying about what might happen and deal with what does instead of being disappointed that things didn’t go your way. That is not to say one should take things lying down. One should always strive to achieve their goals and desires. But in that quest, one must accept defeat and sorrow as part of life’s equation. To me, no ideal eternity exists, but there are moments of absolute connectivity where achieving joy is possible. Moments when elements align to establish tranquility amid chaos. Moments alone with ourselves where we feel wonderfully whole.

The world of humans may never become friendly, and mankind may never live as one, but any individual can find peace. Peace does not depend on the state of the outer world. It dwells in the heart and can be found in the depth of our souls. Look deep, my friends, and see yourself in others. Live and let live, and learn to share the planet. Mizeta

Listening

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I was standing in line at Freddy’s with two bras, three pairs of panties and six sets of nylons in my basket. It was early, so the store wasn’t busy and only one check stand was open. I was thinking about this week’s prompt from my writing group that asked me to listen to sounds around me and write about what I heard. Till that morning, all I’d heard was wind howling out of the gorge, limbs falling on my roof, and the dumpster lid clanging shut. So . . . I took a moment to patiently wait for my turn to pay—and listen.

“Oh my God,” an overweight, unshaven man in worn boots and dirty overalls exclaimed to his wife. She was wearing pajama bottoms, Scooby-Doo slippers and an ill-fitting camouflage top. Her hair was a mess. “What is the world coming to when men are dressing like women and buying lingerie in broad daylight?”

The woman in line behind them decided to answer before the man’s wife could. “In my day queers were horse whipped and jailed. These faggots have gotten uppity, and I for one would like to see them all in prison. They weren’t born with breasts so why do they need bras? I haven’t worn nylons for years. They make my legs itch.”

So . . . two different problems with their complaints resonated in my skull. The first was that I’m not gay. I lust over women incessantly despite my clothing predilections. The second was that they were ill-kempt, and I was wearing a beautiful dress, fantastic heels and had recently showered. Their body odors permeated the immediate area and were extremely off-putting.

Tuning out their bigotry-filled bonding, I focused on a phone conversation between a woman in one of the store’s electric carts and an unknown person. “You wouldn’t believe what I’m seeing,” she was saying. “Some homo is buying panties. That’s just not right. Since when did equal rights mean penises could loll about in sexy underwear? I mean like . . . how sick has the world become?”

As she thankful rolled away, I eavesdropped on another conversation. I was getting closer to check out, but still third in line. By stilling my mind and attaining absolute focus, I was able to ascertain that the conversationalists were employees who wished they didn’t have to serve the likes of me. Sure, Freddy’s guidelines required them to be polite to everyone, but mean it? Get a fucking grip.

Pretty soon I was next. Pull out the cards and be prepared for escape. Then . . . it’s my turn. Checker appropriately polite, me wishing they meant it and actually liked me. Does that make me needful?

Anyway, I heard a woman two rows over say she liked my shoes. A guy standing on the sidewalk said I was looking good. I heard a flirtatious rogue toot his horn at me as I strolled across the parking lot. Now, what I was hearing were the sounds of change. Acceptance overtaking the dissonance of hate. Kindness replacing the insensitivity of bigots in line with me at the store. I can, and always do, rise above debasement. My self-worth is deeply entrenched and cannot be denied. I exist. I can stand in line to buy whatever suits my need of the moment. I can reap reward from my labor. No person who feels they are better than me can destroy my dreams or impede my journey to fulfill them. I was born. I am here. Who are you to decide my fate or place in life? That was my unspoken retort to my detractors. We’re all stuck in line waiting for our turn. What’s in your cart matters to you and I don’t judge it. Why are you so worried about mine?

Practice kindness and tolerance and you’ll never walk alone. Mizeta      

Shaved Legs and All: Under Attack

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It took a while, but the current administration finally got around to picking a fight with the LGBT community. According to the news, there will soon be a new set of mandates about gender identity that would prohibit not only reassignment, but also personal choices about sexual identity. Born a man, stay a man etc. All legislation of this type is religion-based and totally violates the first amendment of the constitution. Every bit of personal freedom that millions of people have fought for over decades could be wiped away overnight.

I have stated many times that I have plenty of friends who go to church, believe in things I don’t, and that I bear them no ill will until they use their church laws to create state or federal law. My personal choices cause them no harm, and my sovereignty isn’t theirs to control through legislation. Not liking how I dress or not adhering to their tenets does not justify restricting my freedom. I will go to my grave being a staunch advocate of separation of church and state. I don’t try to stop them from living their lives. Why are they so adamant about creating behavioral guidelines for mine?

The result of this legislation will be a greater chasm between lifestyles, a scofflaw mentality in the LGBT community, and people beaten, persecuted or jailed for non-compliance. I have never sought, nor desired, sexual reassignment, but am a card-carrying member of the right to be yourself movement. To live in a country ruled by church philosophy has no appeal. If I lived in a Muslim country, I would refuse to live under a hood and walk behind a man. If I must live my twilight years in prison for my beliefs, I will do so proudly. I don’t own one piece of male clothing and will walk down the street wearing a dress until shot or abducted by bigots wearing badges.

The “establishment of religion” clause of the first amendment means at least this. Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the federal government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect “a wall of separation between church and state.”

Purposeful obfuscation and the consolidation of power have been practices of this administration from the beginning, but stripping citizens of healthcare, personal choice, and freedom from religion are an attack on humanity at large. The basic principles for which America has stood have become a commodity only the privileged few can afford. Immigrants built this country and continue to work diligently to ensure its success and continuation. A person’s sexual preference or identity has never interfered with their desire or willingness to be a good citizen and participate in the American dream.

Personally, I feel that since a lifetime appointee to the Supreme Court has been foisted on the populace after a phony investigation, sexual misconduct by misogynists will be ignored and his beliefs will return women’s rights to the days of inquisition. Without money or power, all I can do is let my freak flag fly. I hope you will do so as well. By standing together and raising concerns, it may impel the next administration to hit the undo button and restore sanity to those in charge. Mizeta.

Shaved Legs and All - I know you. You know me.

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Sometimes I’m guilty of thinking my corner of the world has it right and everyone else is crazy. Most times, I understand that everyone feels they have it going on. That their stuff is THE STUFF, and all else pales.  From my point of view, it goes like this. Most megalomaniacs fail at being superior. Aggressive, unsafe drivers end up in ditches along life’s highways. Potential visionaries turn into swindlers when excess fills the table. We look at each other and scoff, but are the very same loser we indict.

I have failed and so have you. Should we cease trying to better ourselves? I hope not. We are capable of much, but limit ourselves through prejudice and misunderstanding. It’s easy to hate me for being different than you. I could feel the same, but don’t. I understand that the world will never experience simultaneous tranquility. That life’s duality precludes such possibility. However, we can tip the scale in any direction we choose. More of one, less of the other. More getting along while billions of lives unfold simultaneously.

At every level of life there are parasites and hosts. Lack of one erases the other. The ratios are what we should be concerned with. Life is not a simple fifty-fifty proposition. Ninety eight percent good can balance two percent bad. If one exists, the other does.

You might ask what determines parasite from host? Good question. Effort is the answer. One puts out effort to work hard and contribute to societal endeavors. The other sucks away life blood without concern or contribution. Reducing their impact is a matter of making ourselves stronger and less vulnerable to attack, much the same as with a common cold. We can elevate ourselves and make even the lowest of the low be less than contemptable. That would mean that the highest of the high would be magnificent. To do so, we need to learn tolerance. In the work place or home, we have similar goals and needs. We bleed when cut. We cry at night when alone. We are vulnerable and sensitive. We want to care. We love our friends and family and mourn their passing.

I know you don’t want to die and neither do I. Why kill each other over differences? Avoid each other? Sure. Drink at a different bar? Yeah baby. Blaze new trails in a gigantic world? OMG! Where do I sign? I get it that groups of people will always control blocks of turf and restrict access. What I want to know is, is going there worth the effort? I’d rather drink at a bar that wants my business instead of frequent somewhere I’m unwelcome. I’d rather hang with people who see me as part of the crew, not some freak they tolerate. My hope is that someday a dude in a dress will be so ordinary that no one takes notice unless the shoes and dress are awesome. Meanwhile, I’ll keep plugging along, knowing lots of people don’t like me, but convinced that I like myself. I’m not hurting anyone by being me. If your being you poses no threat to me, please rock on. Mizeta       

Shaved Legs an All - Diva

Call me stuck up if you want, but I’m tired of dealing with lowbrows. People unwilling to apply basic manners and show respect for others. People who’ll spend all night tagging a concrete wall but won’t lift a finger to help the world move forward. People unwilling to be anything but parasites, expecting to be taken care of but offering nothing in return. I’m equally tired of dealing with people so arrogant and insensitive they ignore everyone else’s presence while pontificating about how wonderful they are. I’m a diva in my personal opera, but realize I am part of a whole in the final analysis.

Whatever I perceive myself to be, or how important, there are others in this world living out their own definition of reality. I’m just sick of people who want to obviate the existence of others in order to do that. Whether it’s through disregard and disrespect, ignorance, or unawareness, I am taking a stand against rudeness. I will no longer accept it in my world. Be an asshole if you like, but don’t ask me to condone your caustic behavior.

Sometimes I can be a prissy little bitch who wants the world to be cleaner and nicer, but I quickly remember that the human experience has been mostly bloodshed and violence. Harmony and coexistence have been localized sub programs for millennia. Is it possible to alter those programs? To reboot ourselves in more positive directions? I hope so. If not, tweekers will steal everything we’ve earned, and gangsters will slay our children for their lunch money. Intimidation, suppression, and persecution have ruled for so long I wonder if it is possible to become a free human. Someone unshackled from violent surroundings and capable of existing without societal restraint based on false morality. Someone who can behave in a civil manner while pursuing their dream.

I know it’s a lot to ask. To quit blasting stereos at midnight. To allow the guy who works graveyard a little sleep before you start screaming at your old lady about the pancakes being too hard and not having enough syrup. To not work on your car at five in the morning. To not muscle your way past other drivers who are equally eager to get home. There’s a lot of us here, and getting along is highly desirable to a sissy like me. I hate bruises and would prefer a hug over a fist in the face. Maybe that makes me weak and undeserving of a place in line. Too caring, too concerned. Whatever! I just want to get through the day without other people dumping stress in my life. I write fiction. I deal in make believe. My goal is to transport people’s minds to magical, implausible, imaginary places. I just want to have fun. At the end we all die, but what happens before then is significant. It is the story of our lives. As I grow older I’m ignoring belittlement from self-appointed critics. If I’m a tarnished diva and my soundtrack stinks, I’m willing to take responsibility for that. None of us is perfect. All of my life I‘ve sought to belong. To forge friendships with loving people and incinerate hatred. All I’ve ever wanted to be is loved. All I’ve ever wanted to do is love. That is a more difficult task than I ever thought it might be. We have urges, and we have programming, but we also have the ability to take control. Such a pity so few of us take advantage of infinite opportunity. Can we do that? Take charge? Take responsibility for our words and actions? Shall we remain victims of improper programming forever? Mizeta         

 

Never Too Late for Love

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Recently I attended the wedding of two women in their eighties. One of the women was part of my writing group at the senior center until recently and has a wonderful sense of humor. I miss her stories that often made me laugh so hard it hurt. She went through life with a male partner until finally coming out as a lesbian in her seventies. A while back she met a woman she brought to our weekly meetings. It was easy to see they were getting along famously and when they said they were moving in together it was no surprise. They had to do a lot of downsizing and the usual restructuring of the nest. So, when they said they were getting married everyone was happy for them, even though other community activities kept them from attending any longer.

The wedding was held in a public park, not in a dark corner or a private residence. That was refreshing in more ways than I can count. There is still a lot of resistance to same sex marriage, but the times they are a changing. The bride wore a lacy white top and the groom wore a white tux with purple accoutrement. The groom’s flashy silver sneakers were awesome. They both use walkers, which were wrapped with white netting. When they walked down the aisle behind a four-year-old flower girl tossing rose petals it was amusing. Throughout the ceremony there were several incidents and remarks that caused the whole assembly to chuckle. It was a very religious ceremony, (which made me somewhat uncomfortable) but even the preacher cracked a few jokes during the reading of vows. Sitting in their walkers they were the epitome of love as they exchanged rings and declared their commitment to each other.

Several things stood out to me. One was that while many church people lash out at gays, there is at least one congregation (probably, hopefully, more) that doesn’t practice condemnation as part of its faith. Christianity supposedly embraces diversity and equality, and this was a shining example of such philosophy. Legislating against such loving women would be a crime.

Another thing was how people passing by smiled instead of frowning. How everyone there embraced this union with complete acceptance. Tears of joy abounded. That women so deep into their lives could find each other and fearlessly act on their feelings. No lightning bolts came out of the sky and struck them down for being sinners. Everyone ate, laughed, and functioned like any community in the world. I felt the love in the air and enjoyed this moment under the sun. I walked away thinking that our strength is in our unwillingness to be deterred from finding love, freedom, and good company. That only by standing in the light and declaring our true selves will the burden of derision be lifted and the chains of oppression be unshackled. Bravo to you ladies. I tip my hat and wish you happiness and joy. Mizeta

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